Mumbai rains: For citizens, this year's monsoon has been a tale of traffic jams, waterlogging and cracking bridges

For the citizens of Mumbai, this year's monsoon has been marked by pothole-related accidents, a bridge collapse and frequent reports of severe waterlogging in many areas.

According to the Free Press Journal, just one month into the monsoon, the maximum city has already witnessed 38 deaths compared with 26 deaths in rain-related incidents last year. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) report shows  around 1,700 rain-related incidents, from house collapses to drowning, have been reported since 1 June.

A report by Indian Environment Portal explained how the construction of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and Bandra-Kurla Complex caused the uprooting of mangroves, which were the natural barrier that prevented flooding in the city, DNA reported. The ongoing infrastructure and mega-housing projects have resulted in new flooding spots emerging all across the city.

Andheri bridge collapse

On 3 July, a part of a footover bridge (FOB) at Mumbai's suburban Andheri railway station  collapsed, bringing train services to a halt as heavy rains lashed the city. Overhead Equipment (OHE) was damaged and a team of engineers swung into action to restore it, chief PRO of Western Railway, Ravinder Bhakar, told PTI.

The mishap, which led to one woman's death, brought the focus on the condition of roads and bridges in the city. The incident led to the delay and disruption of train services on the Western line for several hours. Authorities had shut down at least two overbridges across railway tracks in Ghatkopar and Malad due to safety concerns during an inspection.

Following the Andheri bridge collapse, cracks were also noticed on a bridge at the Grant Road railway station in south Mumbai.

In Ghatkopar, authorities were forced to divert traffic from the rail overbridge after noticing cracks in the structure.

Pothole accidents

On 13 July, a man was killed and another injured after the motorcycle they were travelling on skidded over a pothole in Sanpada in neighbouring Navi Mumbai while a 40-year-old woman was crushed to death after she fell off a bike on a waterlogged road in Kalyan. These are two of five such incidents reported in the city.

Amid reports of several deaths due to rain-related accidents in Mumbai, Maharashtra PWD minister Chandrakant Patil claimed that pothole-ridden roads cannot be entirely blamed for the accidents. The statement came even as five persons have lost their lives due to damaged roads in the Mumbai region in the last two weeks.

Speaking to reporters in Sangli on Saturday, Patil said, "When you talk about a death in such an accident, you forget that five lakh other people have travelled on the same road. You cannot put the entire blame on the (condition of) roads alone."

Mumbai rains: For citizens, this years monsoon has been a tale of traffic jams, waterlogging and cracking bridges

Considering a high tide followed by heavy rain could create waterlogging in low-lying areas, in view of the forecast, the BMC closed the flood gates to prevent seawater from entering the city during high tide. AFP

The senior minister hastened to add that he did not have all the information about the recent accidents, and action will be taken against officials based on the facts of each case. Family members of the deceased will get due compensation, he added.

On Saturday, Congress workers counted and filled potholes in suburban Bandra as part of its campaign, titled "Aao Potholes Giney" (let's count potholes), and accused Mumbai's civic body of not being prepared for the monsoons.

The Congress started the campaign on Thursday after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed that the number of potholes on Mumbai's roads had come down drastically. Sanjay Nirupam, the Congress' city unit chief, on Saturday said the Shiv Sena and the BJP should quit the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation if the civic body was unable to keep the city's roads free of potholes.

Excess rainfall

This year, there have been reports of excess rainfall in different parts of Mumbai. On Sunday, a senior district official said that Maharashtra's Thane district received 11,446.54 millimetres of rainfall this year, which is 66 percent of the rainfall it received during the entire monsoon season last year. Thane received 11,446.54 millimetres rainfall this season so far as against 8,613.50 millimetres in the same period last year, district information officer Aniruddha Ashtaputre said. The district had received 17,150.10 millimetres of rainfall in the entire monsoon season last year, the official said.

Mumbai experienced the highest tide of the season of 4.97 metres, reports said on Sunday. Considering a high tide followed by heavy rain could create waterlogging in low-lying areas, in view of the forecast, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) closed the flood gates to prevent seawater from entering the city during high tide.

On Friday, residents of Marine Drive complained of huge amounts of garbage that had been dumped on the iconic coastal road due to high tide. A civic official said that work to clean up the area, visited by thousands of Mumbaikars every day, was taken up on a priority basis soon after.

On 9 July, the downpour was touted to be the highest of the season so far in a day and caused traffic jams. Many roads and streets were flooded and people were seen wading through knee-deep water. The heavy downpour which began on 6 July crippled the city’s infrastructure, with severe waterlogging in many areas affecting roads and traffic.

The Colaba observatory in south Mumbai recorded 170.6 millimetres of rainfall in 24 hours (from 8.30 am Sunday), an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said."It is the highest rainfall of the season so far in 24 hours," IMD Mumbai's deputy director general KS Hosalikar said.

By 10 July, the rain also impacted Mumbai’s lifeline — the railways — when the northern suburb of Nallasopara, was flooded leading to disruptions in services of all trains being cancelled. A few passengers were stranded in trains for more than 16 hours.

The same day, local trains, considered the lifeline of Mumbai, moved at a snail's pace due to waterlogging of the tracks, resulting in harrowing times for lakhs of office-goers and other commuters. A distance usually covered in about an hour took several hours, even up to five hours in some cases, as the rail tracks, as well as roads, were submerged. The rains also affected Mumbai's famous tiffin carriers Dabbawalas, who are known for their on-time delivery service: They suspended their services on Tuesday.

BMC receives flak

On 6 July, railway minister Piyush Goyal, addressing the media, announced that over the next six months, a joint safety audit would be conducted by the railways, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, whereby 445 road overbridges, foot overbridges and bridges over pipelines in the city would be analysed.

The city's newspapers were scathing in their coverage, with the civic administration and state government coming in for heavy criticism.

Amid a plethora of criticism, the BMC also drew flak for on 9 July for announcing a school holiday after students reached schools. That day, heavy rains battered the city and caused severe waterlogging in several parts of the city. However, Maharashtra education minister Vinod Tawde said the BMC would take a call on declaring holiday for schools and colleges in the city in the event of heavy rain.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jul 16, 2018 07:37:34 IST

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